If his Friday appearance on The View was any indication, Joe Biden is going to have a real hard time addressing his history with women when the issue inevitably comes up (and comes up and comes up) on the campaign trail. He was asked to talk about his treatment of Anita Hill and his tendency to invade women’s personal space and it was a mess.
After much prompting by the show’s co-hosts, Biden reluctantly apologized to the women who accused him of being overly touchy. “Here’s the deal, everybody has to be much more aware of the private space of men and women,” he said. “It’s not just women but it’s primarily women. I am much more cognizant of that.”
He added, “I have never in my life done anything in approaching a woman other than trying to bring solace.”
Biden called those concerns “totally legitimate” and said he needs to be more aware of who he hugs and even sits next to. But it wasn’t so much what he said as how he said it—it sounded at times like a lament, at others passive-aggressive:
Joe Biden: But... I don’t think anyone’s ever said that I invaded their space in a way that was designed to do something other than making them feel uncomfortable, not anything having to do with harassment
Sunny Hostin: Right, they’ve said that. But they’ve also said, “I’d like an apology.”
Biden: Well, look. I’m really sorry if what I did in talking to them—trying to console—that in fact they took it a different way. And it’s my responsibilty to make sure I bend over backwards to try to understand how not to do that.”
Joy Behar: Nancy Pelosi wants you to say that, “I’m sorry that I invaded your space.”
Biden: Sorry I invaded your space! Sorry this happened. But I’m not sorry in the sense that I think I did anything that was intentionally designed to do anything wrong or be inappropriate.
Things didn’t get better when he was asked about Hill:
Biden called her an important figure, saying she’s one of the reasons why the MeToo movement exists. But when pressed to make amends, Biden fumbled—deflecting about his own behavior. He said that he’s “sorry for the way she got treated, I wish we could have figured out a better way to get this done.” He later added: “I don’t think I treated her badly.”
Hill, I think, might disagree.